Saturday, 31 January 2015

Pineapple-apple smoothie

This is day 1 from a cleansing period of five consecutive days: no meat, diary products (no cheese = difficult!), no coffee, sugar nor wine, but lots of vegetables and fluids like detox tea. I support it with a course of detox tablets which stimulate the liver and intestines. So, I went for a pineapple smoothie this morning as it is in season at the moment. Also, pineapple like lemon, lime and grapefruit, works like a solvent which is good for the cleansing of the liver and galbladder. Pineapple contains the enzym bromelain, which contributes to the recovery and digestion of protein. Later on this afternoon I have a yoga intensive, perfect timing!
pineapple-apple smoothie
1 banana
half a pineapple
2 apples
bit of raw chocolate nibs
1 teaspoon of macapowder
1 tablespoon of chiaseeds
splash of coconut water
bit of coconut milk
I was going to add an avocado for extra body, but when I cut it in half, I saw that was way beyond its expiration date. That was weird, because it didn't feel like that on the outside.
Digital stamp by Elise Blaha. I just love playing around with them.

Friday, 30 January 2015

Let it snow, let it snow

snow on a blue car
When I woke up this morning and I looked out of my window I saw that it had snowed. The world was pretty white and quiet. 
patterns in snow
During the day most of it disappeared, but in the morning I went for a little walk to the Vondelpark to smell the fresh air of the snow and to feel the sunlight on my face.
snowy tracks
snowy tracks
snow on the front window of a car
It was lovely in the park. There were other people enjoying the snow, but the cyclists had a little trouble riding through it and it was a bit slippery.
snow on a bicycle
snow on a bicycle 
broken ice in a pond
broken ice in a pond
seagull on a branch
After a little walk I took a coffee at a place in the park, sat down, relaxed and walked home again, refreshed and very happy. It may sound like a cliche, but to me happiness is in these little things.

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Academic remembrance of professor Henk Vroom

Yesterday the academic remembrance of professor Henk Vroom (1945-2014) took place at the Auditorium of the VU University, exactly a day after this passing. I was asked to take photographs of the occasion but I declined thinking I'd be too busy with the coordination. I took my camera with me anyways, thinking that there might be an opportunity to take some shots.
covering up the painting by and with Rein Pol
Covering up the painting of H. Vroom by and with Rein Pol (right)
I took shots right from the beginning when the painting was covered with a cloth for the audience. After that I couldn't put my camera down again, I was hooked on capturing the remembrance.
audience of the remembrance
The audience of the remembrance with on the far right professor Willie van der Merwe who succeeded Henk Vroom on the chair and in the middle the wife of the dean.
professor Wim Janse, dean
Professor Wim Janse, dean of the faculty of Theology at the VU University, performed the opening speech.
audience of the academic remembrance
audience of the academic remembrance
audience of the academic remembrance
We reserved the front row chairs of the Auditorium, the left of the alley are a few prominent men amongst whom the rector magnificus of the VU University and Jan Peter Balkenende former prime minister of the Netherlands, the speakers, the dean and Rein Pol, the painter of the portrait.
Frank van der Duyn-Schouten and Jan Peter Balkende
Frank van der Duyn-Schouten and Jan Peter Balkende
professor Willie van der Merwe
professor Willie van der Merwe
the late professor Henk Vroom
I didn't know the man personally, but apparently Professor Henk Vroom contributed largely to the debate on the social terrains of church, culture and politics by his studies on the role of religion in the public domain and the inter religious dialogue. He put his mark on and partly determined our multi ideologically dialogue of the faculty of Theology.
reflection of Martien Brinkman, friend and colleague
Reflection in glass of Martien Brinkman, friend and colleague
Since the pressure on me was really low, after all someone else was taking the official photographs of the remembrance, I was relaxed about the whole event. I noticed my Miksang eye was handy and when I uploaded the pictures on my computer I realized I could do this, I don't have to be so modest about my capacity! Coincidentally, I talked to a former colleague of mine who gave me a huge commission to fill their database with photographs. Maybe this is the start of something beautiful...

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Family birthday party

My sister celebrated her birthday last weekend and it was one of those grey days, you know, when there is not much light in da house even when your sister lives on the 10th floor of a tall apartment building.
my mother with niece and nephew
my mother with niece and nephew
 my niece Lisa reading a book
 my niece Lisa reading a book
I almost didn't get there in the first place because I woke up Saturday in a snowy world and the trains wouldn't ride out of Amsterdam all morning.
You see my nephew and nieces reading a book in the photographs but normally they are playing on a tablet or smart phone. I am glad my brother and sister are trying to pass on some old school skills.
niece showing portfolio
My oldest niece Katie is showing her portfolio to my father, her granddad. She has an intake for a regional school for media and graphic design this week and she is quite excited and nervous about it at the same time. By the end of February she will hear if she is enrolled or not.
red glass of wine
My mother enjoyed being surrounded by her children and grandchildren, sipped on a glass of red wine and chatted away. I enjoyed being with my family too, but more from a spectator's perspective.
At the end of the day I was happy that I could find a train riding back to Amsterdam when I got to the station. For some time now train traffic is difficult in Autumn (leaves on the tracks) and Winter (snow on the tracks). But if trains are riding in Siberia, why not in Holland?

Sunday, 25 January 2015

More on my costume

Our travel date next month is coming near and even though I am pulling out an 'old' costume from my closet I realized that I need to spend some time preparing myself. I also realized that two years ago I didn't write much about the process of making the costume, my blog then was more focused on Miksang contemplative photography and not on my other creative outlets. As I have spread out my focus a little, I wanted to share these photos with you and let you know more about another side of me. So I wrote a few articles on that and archived them immediately in 2013 for the sake of chronology. I will post more in the next couple of days through this page.
Click on the captions below the photographs to go to the corresponding page.
us in Venice
us in Venice 
costume update 28 January 2013
costume update 28 January 2013
costume update 8 December, 2012

Well, I need to try it on again. Imagine I put on weight!

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Venice revisited

We have plans, my friends and I, to go back to Venice for the carnival next month. The plans are actually quite definite as we have bought our tickets and reserved our apartment. My only objection was not having to make a totally new costume because I didn't have the time nor energy to spend on a new one. So I am taking one out of the closet, it is the costume that I wore last time.
dressed as a golden angel in Cafè Florian
In the picture above I am dressed as a golden angel in Cafè Florian, San Marco square, the place to be during carnival. To see and be seen. In no way does this 19th century dress fit with the costumes that the others are going to wear, but I am taking the risk, this is what it is and I will feel great in it. Venice has become quite familiar over the years. I love the colour of the water, the little alleys, the smell of freshly baked pane or the look of delicious ice-cream. I am soo looking forward to this trip.
Look over here, or here, or here or here for earlier impressions.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Shambhala training, level 1: The art of being human

Last weekend I went to the first training weekend out of five on the path of Shambhala buddism: The art of being human. I don't know if that is the original English title, but that is what I call it for now. I wanted to know more about the origins of the underlying philosophy of Miksang contemplative photography and its roots in Shambhala buddism. 
white Shambhala fan with calligraphy and stamp
About 40 people enlisted for this workshop. During the first weekend we got acquainted with the basics of Shambhala meditation (sitting and walking) which has its origins in Tibetan traditions. Shambhala means 'belief of nothing' in Sanskrit, it is about not having viewpoints.
blue meditation pillows
For this shamata (attention) meditation technique we need three things: friendliness and gentleness towards ourselves; fearlessness, a courageous action to sit down without a goal; and intelligence, a wakeful gaze upon our mind. Meditating is about observing what is happening, not controlling it, like a warrior: fearless and gentle. Meditation is the synchronization of body and spirit, being in the same place and in the same time.
black gong
We get into the right posture, the focus of the breathing is on the exhalation without influencing it and the minute we realize that we are thinking we quietly say to ourselves: thinking and we come back to the breathing. Our mind is like a wild horse, that is one of the well known images in Shambhala. We give this wild horse lots of space and time and at a certain moment it will stand still.
Shambhala shrine
And then there is something like basic goodness, our fundamental being which has the desire to show our sparkle or brilliance, but we are afraid of that. So we stay in our cocoon, our safe space where everything is familiar. However, the aim is that we want to be true. There is a difference between first thought and second thought. 'First' means: fresh, something true. 'Second' means: all our comments on that, our judgements.
This is in a nutshell what I understood from the teacher and it is in no way complete. We listened and practiced and the real practice actually starts now, when I am back at home and am trying to pick up the routine of taking a few minutes of my day and spending it for myself. Anyways, next week the training 'Mediation in daily life' will start, that will help me for sure.

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Morning glory

reflected clouds and trees in water
It was Saturday morning, a little after nine as you can see on the clock below and I was cycling to my destination: a meditation weekend at the Shambhala center which is located a little behind the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.
morning light on the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
It was quiet in the streets (who is up so early on a Saturday morning?), the sky was clear, the temperature was just around 0 degrees Celsius and the light was shining its orange rays on the buildings. The golden hour.
reflection of a tree in water
When I reached my destination I parked my bike and looked around me. I was wide awake even though it was early for me too, my awareness was open and the light and the reflections in the canal touched my eyes and heart.
reflection of houses in an Amsterdam canal
I just stood on that bridge for a while, looked around me and enjoyed immensely what I saw. With a happy heart I went into the building for a full day of instructions on mediation. I will let you know more about that later in the week.

Friday, 16 January 2015

Yoga and Art (Yoku): Starting together, in detail

After debating what to do with our collective painting, my housemate (who also happens to be one of the teachers) and I decided to bring it to our house and to hang it up in one of our corridors after drying up. We rolled the painting onto my living room floor and let it dry overnight. Today I took some shots by daylight of a few areas of the work that I find interesting.
painted heart
painted heart
scratches through paint
scratches through paint
green striped square
green striped square
blue painted graphics
blue painted graphics
painted featherlike shape
painted featherlike shape
painted pink angel
painted pink angel
Like I said in my former blogpost, none of my doing is on the surface. Underneath all these beautiful shapes, forms, patterns and colours, some of the strokes are mine. Above all it is a collective work and the joy was in the making. Sure enough the painting will adorn our house, we will find a good spot.

Yoga and Art (Yoku): Starting together

yoku: painting together
Last night was the first Yoku night of 2015 and the theme was 'starting together'. First we talked about how the start of the year was for each of us. My year started with a great James Bond party organized by my friend and I. I rested well during the holidays, but now I am already becoming tired as it is very busy and literally nerve wrecking at work.
yoku: my hand covered in paint
We didn't do much yoga this time, we did a meditation Kundalini-style: thumbs tucked under our armpits, fingertips touching the chest bone and the inhalation was through an open mouth causing a whistling sound, exhalation through the nose. Inwardly you cited the mantra: 'Ong' on an in-breath and 'So Hang' on the out-breath. It made me focused on what I was doing and I associated the sounds of the whistles with howling wind. I was really tired from work but the mediation energized me. 
yoku: painting together on music
We let the mediation do its work throughout out bodies and slowly we started to move on the sounds of a relaxing melody. The music became more upbeat and we were coaxed to dance and to use the whole room as a dance floor.
yoku: painting a heart
Finally, we were invited to start painting on a huge piece of paper so we were not making our own painting but a collective one. I felt like painting with my hands instead of holding a brush. I moved on the music and moved my hands on the beat, if felt great! We were all doing 'our thing': one was working with forms, another with colours, and yet another was scratching through the top layers. We were all over the place, adding to what was already on the paper, enhancing or changing it to something else.
yoku: final common painting
Above is the first final painting. You can clearly see some people's little areas like the heart and the blue graphic shape on the right. My contributions are below the upper levels, they are covered by other layers of paint which is totally ok for me. But you could say I didn't make a clear statement which I don't mind because I enjoyed the movement, I enjoyed working with paint, music and each other.
yoku: second painting
After the first painting was finished we moved on to the next, see above. This became a totally different painting, caused by us sitting down instead of standing up and the different kind of music. People were more keen on a little area of their own and leaving their mark on the sheet. Looking back I notice that I am shy in starting on a white canvas (in this case paper), but after two invitations to paint in someone else's work I happily took up on those and continued with what was already there. In both cases it was not about leaving a mark, but about interaction and change. But first I needed approval to actually do that. The other let go of their work first before they invited someone else in their territory.
This was totally fun to do and a great idea to do with friends or family on a special occasion.
See here the painting in detail.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Photograph of the Board

Board members Faculty of Theology, VU Amsterdam
photograph by Maurice Timmermans
Last Tuesday a man that I know through work as a consultant and came over at our Faculty in a totally different role namely as a photographer to take a photo of the Board. He came with lamps, tripod and a big Canon and set up our Board room for the photograph. He wanted  to take a kind of 'action' photo, so after he was all set up we came in with our meeting papers and iPads and pretended to be in a proper meeting. The light was difficult: it is winter, the sky was completely overcast, there are windows on one side of the room (the left side for the viewer) and of course there was the traditional office lighting from above. Not an easy task, because the lights kept reflecting in one the glasses of portraits on the wall.
We are all quiet enthusiastic about this picture: the light is soft, the atmosphere relaxed, it looks just like a modern version of an old-fashioned painting. Of course we women arranged for colour synchronization beforehand, the blue looks good on us both and it adds a splash of colour in the whole image.

The photographer is studying at an international Art School and he is passionate about photography. He especially likes to photograph people. Check out his website:

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Life | Scripted, II

overview excercise II of Life | Scripted
Last weekend I had a second attempt at the brush script e-course of Kal Barteski called Life | Script. Look over here for my first class of this e-course. The e-course has three classes in total: loading and cleaning the brush, drawing lines and finally lettering.
lettering a's in brush script
As a warming up I started drawing thick and thin lines again. Kal tells me in the video she does that almost every day and her studio is covered with paper sheets. Luckily she recycles her paper and I started doing that, too. I even started to take paper from the office that was chucked in the paper bin (see the sheet above).
Anyways, after drawing lines the assignment was to paint the letters of the alphabet in lower and upper case and to make every letter different than the other.
brush script: connecting alphabet in upper case
I then had to write the alphabet in all in capital or all in lower case and connecting the letters with each other as much as possible. That felt like learning to write again right from the start. Connecting upper case letters is not what I normally do in writing.
brush script: connecting alphabet in upper and lower case
Next was brushing the alphabet with alternating upper and lower case letters. Boy, that was not easy as my thinking was slower than the brush in my hand.
brush script: do your best
The last exercises were brushing a word or a couple of stacked words. That was much fun as now real words emerged which actually meant something. I am thinking of a little word for this year and writing it in brush script. More about that in a later post. So far I had a lot of fun with writing letters with a brush and black ink.
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